The Royal New Zealand Navy has deployed its inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Taupo to help Fiji patrol its vast Exclusive Economic Zone and train its navy sailors for the second consecutive year.
Taupo left Auckland on Monday to spend the next three months conducting maritime patrols in Fiji.
The patrols by HMNZS Taupo, in support of the Republic of Fiji Navy, will involve the usual compliance monitoring activities, which include two Fishery Officers from New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries assisting with boarding and inspection of vessels.
In 2017, the NZDF sent inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Hawea to Fiji to help patrol the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which encompass more than 1.1 million square kilometres.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the combined maritime surveillance operations with Fiji would contribute to the multinational effort to ensure sustainable management of fishery resources in the South West Pacific.
“We also expect the patrols to deepen collaboration between New Zealand and Fiji government agencies and strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries,” Major General Gall said.
The combined maritime patrols with Fiji last year achieved strong results, the RNZN said. The operation resulted in about 550 vessels boarded and 110 alleged infringements detected. About 50 Fiji Navy sailors, 27 customs officers and 19 fishery officers also trained on Hawea.
Royal New Zealand Navy Captain Dave McEwan, the Maritime Component Commander, said learning was a two-way process and the New Zealand sailors learnt as much from their Fiji Navy partners.
“We hope to replicate the success of last year’s combined patrols and contribute to Fiji’s maritime security,” he said.